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Raymond Plank, Founder of Ucross Foundation, Dies

The Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Ucross Foundation, Raymond Plank, has died.

The WWII bomber pilot, business leader, and philanthropist – passed away on November 8 at his home in Ucross, Wyoming, at the age of 96. A native of Minnesota, Plank was a graduate of Yale University. He founded Apache Corporation in 1954. He established Ucross in 1981 and the first artist residencies began in 1983. Since then, Ucross has supported over 2,000 artists, writers, composers and choreographers with the gift of uninterrupted time, including Annie Proulx, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett, Colson Whitehead, Adam Guettel, Claudia Rankine, Steven Lutvak, and Ricky Ian Gordon. Many have been awarded prestigious honors such as the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and the Tony Award, among others.

Plank was also dedicated to land stewardship and helped establish a conservation easement on the
Ucross ranch with The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming. His most recent initiative was the creation of the Park at Ucross, which features an interdenominational Ucross Chapel, the Johansen Memorial
Gardens, and the Raymond Plank Creative Center. Plank was the founder of other charitable
organizations, including the Fund for Teachers, Springboard – Educating the Future, the Ucross High
Plains Stewardship Initiative, and the Plank Stewardship Initiative. In 2012, Plank published a memoir, A Small Difference, which is available via the Ucross website or by contacting the Ucross office.

Ucross President Sharon Dynak states: “Raymond Plank was a force of nature. He would have
appreciated the beautiful snowfall in Ucross on the night of his passing.  His long-range vision and
generosity have left an extraordinary legacy here at Ucross -- a creative sanctuary for artists and writers on an historic 20,000-acre cattle ranch on the High Plains. Raymond loved Wyoming and we are honored to continue the worthy mission that he originated over 35 years ago.  He transformed the lives of thousands of artists whose work has influenced the culture of the world.  He made an indelible mark on all who knew him, and we will miss him!”

For a full obituary, click here.

[First printed at Photo: ©2012 Adam Jahiel]